Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Author Interview: Trystan Viker

I'm winding down these interviews, with only a couple more to go after this one. They've been fun and educational, but all good things must come to an end. That's just how it is.

But, for this week, we Trystan Viker, author of Devotion. Let's check out what she has to say.


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1. Please tell us about yourself.

I'm an ex-fashion and lifestyle writer changing my career to write Dark Fiction and Paranormal stories. I live in Canada, where most of my writing takes place. I studied English Literature at the University of Regina where I devoured classical Gothic literature whenever I could.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

My latest release is called DEVOTION. It's about Alice, a strange young woman as she breaks away from the violent, fanatic cult she was raised in after the death of her brother. Desperate to save the only human family she had, she risks discovery by the cult and other paranormal monsters in order to find some way to rescue her brother from death.

It's also about Dorian, a 200 year old man who might be going through a mid-death crisis. As he struggles with a cloying restlessness about himself, he finds himself trapped in the plans of the despairing Alice as she sees some possible cure for death in his veins.

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

Devotion is the first in a series of books called Wonderland that takes place in the dark and paranormal worlds of Saskatchewan, Canada. The second book is slated for release in July/August of 2013.

4. How long have you been writing?

I've been writing for publication for over a decade now.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

My writing form is likely most inspired from classical Gothic/Victorian era literature. Writers like Le Fanu, Rossetti, Faulkner and Shelley are really pivotal to my form and concept development I think

As for material inspiration, much of the topics I deal with are reactionary pieces to various real life situations. It could come from watching the news, people I meet, etc. There is usually something in my work that is meant to criticize society on a larger scale. It's our flaws as a people that help me create the monsters in my books.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

Find a different career. That doesn't mean “don't be a writer”, that means you shouldn't let your one professional goal be “writer”. For starters, it's nearly impossible to guarantee any sort of living wage right off the bat.

But I think the most important reason for that advice is that the experiences you obtain in the “non-writing” portion of your life will give you the experience you need to write. Don't live in a vacuum. It's easy to make your life all about writing and reading, but your writing will suck if you don't have some outside experiences to shape your words. You don't have to write about your day job, but everything you encounter in life is something you can use and transform in your work. And writing is much easier when your bills are paid and you can afford the freedom to explore life for new fodder in your writing.

I encountered more than a few English students who expect to simply become writers. They hopped from part time job to part time job, never worrying about making a primary career. Now ten or more years later, they're still saddled with student debt, working jobs they're over qualified for and under paid at, and still not making anything as writers. So even if writing is your dream job, don't bank your entire future on -just- that. Writing will always be an option.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

I honestly have no idea. It always surprises me when I let someone read a book and I think at the start “You're not going to like this. There's too much creepy/violence/sex/darkness.” only to find out that they did in fact enjoy the whole thing. I'm a horrible judge of who might enjoy my work. So I simply don't know who my ideal reader is.

I guess if I had to speculate, my ideal reader would be someone who appreciates a less glamourous take on the supernatural and paranormal. My books are for people who look beyond the action on the paper and look for the meaning behind the literature. I write about monsters both in human form and not, so my characters are very flawed and complex creatures which might better appeal to someone who is reading the book for the characters instead of simply the plot.

I like to think it's a piece for more literary readers than someone who is looking for a “guilty pleasure”.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

I'm both a detailed planner and a “seat of the pants” writer. I like to plan, but I often abandon the whole process once the story takes off. When you compare the early planning of Devotion to what it is now it's a completely different story.

9. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?

I think it's unfortunate, but I also understand why. In indie publishing there isn't the same gatekeeper system as with the traditional form. When I was a journalist I would get countless “review my book please!” emails. I would give them a read and most of them were really bad. It was a huge waste of my time to open them. That's not to say that indie publishing is mostly garbage; it's important to note that I was a fashion and lifestyle journalist so I wasn't a book reviewer at all. Most of these requests came from newbie writers who hadn't bothered to look up what my areas of work even were. I think there was an obvious correlation between “bad writers” and spamming the wrong type of journalist with their work. I know there is good work out there, but there are also a lot of bad writers screaming at the top of their lungs for attention as well. It would be overwhelming to have such a quantity pouring in.

So I sympathize with book reviewers stuck in such a position.

10. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

I think that used to be the case. Vanity presses constantly preyed on individuals who were submitting sub-par work and made the whole thing a huge black smear on publishing as a whole. However, now that we have authentic self publishing services that aren't predatory, we can see more writers avoiding the hassles of the traditional model and going direct. That doesn't mean the traditional model is flawed in any way, it simply means were have a new avenue of fresh writing to explore.

I will argue though that it will often lack the “polish” of the traditional publishing models process. Indie publishing will have less editors involved, less changes made to the story to make it more “marketable” and much, much less marketing hype than we used to see. But I think that's wonderful. I think we will see people much more invested in an organic method of writing in exchange for the diversity and quality of story that comes with it.

11. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?

I think it's silly to even give it a second thought. It's like we're taught in school when someone is teasing you, they're only a brief moment of agitation and it's best to move on. It turns me off from a writer a great deal when I see them harping about “unfair reviews”. Yes, there's trolls out there. Yes, there's jerks who might just be sour people looking to be a nuisance. Everyone must know that by now. If I see glowing reviews for a book peppered by a bunch of “This book stinks for no real explored reason at all”, then I know it's someone being a jerk.

I am also smart enough to know that not everyone will have the same tastes. One person's dislike might be something I'm keen about. I think most readers can judge for themselves and when writers get publicly distressed over these negative responses it's an insult to their fans and it shows a very unattractive insecurity in the author to even react to them.

I fully expect a few bad reviews of my own. My books are simply not to everyone's tastes. I'm okay with that. When the day comes that someone says “This writing is garbage! 1 star is too much for this!” I will survive it. I will put on my “big boy pants” and keep writing.

12. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?

Kobo is my primary e-retailer.

13. Where can readers find out more about you?

I have a website and I can also be found on GoodReads


I'm an ex-fashion and lifestyle journalist taking a kick at being a fiction writer. I like monsters, 19th C Gothic lit and Hello Kitty. Oh, and Bats. I love bats.

I also lie to my parents about my career choices so they think I’m a responsible adult.

Wordnik Word of the Day: Antichthon

I thought as I received notable words from Wordnik's Word of the Day service, I'd post them here. If you like, sign-up for Wordnik's Word of the Day service yourself.

antichthon

In Pythagorean astronomy, an imaginary invisible planet continually opposing the earth and eclipsing the central fire, round which it was supposed to revolve, in common with the earth, moon, sun, certain planets, and the fixed stars.

Writing Progress & Other Business #25

I'm writing the next book in The Alchemancer series. It's called The Nullification Engine and should be out soon. As a way to keep readers updated on my progress and also so I can gauge the same, each week I take a look at my current writing progress and report it here. Also, I discuss some other areas revolving around the business side of things.

The Hall of the Wood – 2nd Edition

As indicated to those who signed up to receive notifications when new novels and such of mine come out (what? you're not signed up? Then go here. You'll get a free eBook copy of The Hall of the Wood when it's ready just for being on the list.), The Hall of the Wood is going through final editing now and should be ready sometime this month. My editor got hung up a bit with sick kids and a tornado that knocked power out to his house for a week. Needless to say, his schedule got thrown a little out of whack. But, I'm close to having this book back out there in its glorious new second edition.

The Five Elements – New Cover

This is something I've been thinking about for a while. With the next book in the series imminent (see next section), I wanted to circle back around and start with a fresh, new cover for The Five Elements. This cover was done for me on the cheap, and while it's served me well over the past few years, it's now time to take it up a notch. More on this in the near future.

Writing Editing Progress – The Nullification Engine

I'm no longer writing the next book in The Alchemancer series but editing it. I'm under a deadline, too, as I've already commissioned an editor and she's got me on her calendar with a firm date. This person comes highly recommended, so I'm expecting great things. She'll get started in September. So, all things considered, The Nullification Engine should be out in October. That's the target date, anyway.

Shorts – Assassin Without a Name series

By now you may have seen the cover reveals for each of Fine Wine and Killing the Dead, so you have some idea what this series is all about. If not, the Assassin Without a Name series is about, yep, an assassin whose name just wasn't that important in the context of the first story. In fact, in his line of work, he doesn't really want people knowing his real name, so it fits that it's never revealed upfront. This might become a bit tricky as I continue on with the series, especially as he has family relations in the city he calls home. But, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. As I continue on with the series, I'll go deeper and deeper into the character's background, male-up, and views on the world in general. He has a colorful past, but it won't be revealed all at once. Primarily these shorts are about telling a good, entertaining story, so that's where the focus will remain.

You can purchase Fine Wine and Killing the Dead for free or close to it from all major online retailers.